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Why Are Hairless Cats Hairless? The Genetic Secrets Revealed

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If you’ve seen a hairless cat like Sphynx, you couldn’t help but wonder, “Where’s its fur?” These felines aren’t like fluffy Persians or Maine Coons. They’re wrinkled, big-eyed kitties, which sets them apart from other breeds. So, why are hairless cats hairless? The answer lies in their genes!

Why Are Sphynx Cats Are Hairless?


All cats have keratin 71, also known as the KRT71 gene. This gene is responsible for hair formation in cats. It tells their bodies to produce a protein that helps their coat grow strong and healthy. 

However, hairless cats have a slight change in their KRT71 gene, which causes their hair follicles not to work correctly. It’s like baking cookies with a special recipe. If one ingredient is wrong, the cookies won’t turn out as they should. The same thing applies to hairless cat breeds. This genetic mutation messes up hair growth, resulting in hairless kitties.

Interestingly, this mutation is not only present in hairless breeds. Devon Rex and Selkirk Rex have curly coats because of the change in the KRT71 gene, but these changes are less impactful than those in hairless cats.

How Hairless Cats Get Their Look


Now that we’ve answered the question, “Why are hairless cats hairless?” the next question you’ll have in mind is, “Why do sphynx cats have no hair?” To make cats hairless, they should get two copies of this mutated gene—one from their mother and another from their father. That said, hairless cats are like white whales—they’re rare.

Sometimes, a cat receives only one copy of a hairless gene, which results in a light fuzz or thin coat. These felines are called “lightly furred” hairless cats. They may seem bald, but they’re not.

Other Factors Affecting Hairlessness


While the KRT71 genetic mutation is the primary reason, other factors can influence the amount of fur a cat has. One is temperature. Cats in colder environments have thicker hair to keep themselves warm and comfy, while those in warmer regions have less fur to regulate their body temperature.

Hormones are another reason why hairless cats are hairless, but their effect is relatively insignificant compared to genetics. So, even if temperature and hormones could affect the hair growth process in cats, genetics remain the leading factor in why some cats have no fur.

Myths and Misconceptions About Hairless Cats


Despite their unique features, hairless cats are no different from long-haired cat breeds. Here are a few myths and misconceptions about these bald felines.

Myth #1: Hairless Cats Are Colder Than Other Cats

While hairless breeds feel cooler to the touch because of the lack of fur, their bodies work harder to keep them warm. They have a higher metabolism, so they burn off energy faster to produce body heat. That’s why they’re extra cuddly than other furry breeds, especially during colder months. Giving your not-so-furry friend a cat turtleneck sweater will keep them toasty in chilly weather.

Myth #2: Hairless Cats Are Hypoallergenic

Unfortunately, no cat breed is entirely hypoallergenic. The protein found in a cat’s saliva and dander (dead skin flakes) triggers allergies, not the actual fur. Hairless cat breeds like Sphynx still produce dander, so they can still cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to it. If you have allergies but still want to adopt a hairless cat, consider spending time with one and see if allergy symptoms will occur.

Myth #3: Hairless Cats Have Extra Sensitive Skin

Yes, hairless breeds like sphynx cats are hairless, but that doesn’t mean their skin is more delicate than furry cats. However, they can get sunburned easily. Due to their lack of fur, they don’t have a natural barrier from the sun’s harmful rays. Limit their sun exposure, especially during midday hours. Also, apply cat-approved sunscreen when going out so they can spend more time playing outdoors.

Why Do People Love Hairless Cats?


Despite their unique appearance, many people love hairless kitties. One of the reasons is their personality. They’re loving, playful, and curious creatures, making them excellent companions for cat lovers.

Another reason is that they’re cuddle champions. Their lack of fur requires external heat sources to stay warm and cozy. That’s why they love snuggling with their favorite humans. It’s like wearing a sweater but better.

Lastly, they require less grooming. Since these felines have little to no fur, they don’t need brushes or combs. Hairless cats are perfect for those who don’t want to deal with shedding.

Ethical Concerns Surrounding Furless Cats


Hairless cats get more attention than other cat breeds, which is why many people want to breed them and keep them as pets. While responsible breeders prioritize animals’ health and welfare, it’s crucial to be aware of ethical concerns regarding breeding animals with specific traits. Some concerns include:

  • Potential Health Risks – Being hairless isn’t inherently harmful. However, their lack of fur means they require extra care and are more susceptible to temperature extremes. 
  • Overbreeding – The high demand for unique breeds can lead to irresponsible breeding. Because of the striking appearance of furless felines, some breeders focus on profit rather than animal welfare.
  • Focus on Appearance – Prioritizing the look over a cat’s holistic health and temperament can be ethically questionable.

If you’re considering adopting a hairless cat, it’s crucial to find a reputable breeder who practices healthy cat breeding and prioritizes the cat’s best interest.

Popular Hairless Cat Breeds (With Pictures)

Sphynx may be famous for its lack of fur, but it isn’t the only hairless cat breed. Let’s look at some furless breeds.



Let’s start with the Bambino. It’s kind of like a sphynx but with short legs! Bambinos combine a sphynx and a Munchkin, from which they get their tiny legs. Their dwarf-like appearance makes them look adorable. Bambinos are playful and energetic. They love to zoom around the house. They’re also perfect additions to households with kids because of their friendly nature.

Donskoy (Don Sphynx)


Donskoy is a Russian breed. It’s different from a Sphynx in some ways and their hairlessness results from a different genetic mutation. Instead of being completely hairless, they occasionally have fuzzy hair patches that feel like peach fuzz. They’re also more wrinkly than a Sphynx, particularly on their faces. 

Despite these differences, Sphynx and Donskoy are pretty similar. They’re both sociable and love spending time with their humans. Donskoys are also intelligent. You can train them to wear a harness and leash and play fetch.



Peterbalds can have fine, short fur that feels like peach fuzz, but some have no fur at all. They come in various colors and patterns. Some have a hairless body with a furry tail or legs. Peterbalds are loving and friendly. They get along with almost everyone, including other pets and kids. They’re also curious, playful, and intelligent, which makes them easy to train.

Ukrainian Levkoy


Do you love dogs and cats? This breed is like a dog trapped in a cat’s body! With folded ears and a hairless body, it’s super unique! Ukrainian Levkoys are relatively new, so they’re pretty rare. However, they’re becoming more popular, not only because of their striking appearance but also because of their personalities. They’re playful, clever, and loving with their families.



With huge ears that curl backward like an elf’s, this breed looks like it stepped out of a fairytale book! Like Ukrainian Levkoy, Elf cats are new and rare. However, they’re also gaining popularity because of their playful, clever, and curious traits. They’re also sociable and love spending time with their beloved humans.



A combination of three cat breeds, a Dwelf cat has the Sphynx’s hairlessness, the Munchkin’s short legs, and the American Curl’s curled ears. This breed is known for its sweet and gentle nature and loves snuggling up with humans. Dwelf cats are relatively inactive when indoors, but they love to explore a safe and controlled environment.



Also from the Munchkin breed, Minskins are furless and have short legs. They have some delicate, short hair on their ears, face, legs, and tail, but it feels more like peach fuzz than fur. Munchkins are affectionate and playful, and their petite size makes them ideal for apartment and tiny home living.

Caring for Hairless Cats


Besides keeping them warm and protecting them from harmful UV rays, hairless felines need the following special care to stay healthy and happy:

  • Skincare – Due to their lack of fur, hairless kitties produce more oil than their furry companions. Thus, their skin is susceptible to acne and oil buildup. Weekly bathing with a cat-safe shampoo will keep their skin healthy and clean.
  • Ear Care – Their large, open ears accumulate dirt, causing earwax. Clean their ears regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleaning solution.

Should You Get a Hairless Cat?

If you’re fascinated by why hairless cats are hairless and their playful and loving nature, they might be a perfect fit for you. So, do your research and find a reputable breeder who prioritizes their well-being. But remember, every cat deserves a loving home and an owner who cares for them deeply, regardless of the amount of their fur!


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